Tillage system breaks hardpan on red brown soil

AN ECONOMIC analysis of an unconventional tillage system trialed in SA's mid-north has shown that it produces significantly higher gross margins than conventional tillage practices for the soil type.

David Malinda of the SA Research and Development Institute (SARDI) said the trial site was in a paddock where a hardpan had developed because the red-brown soil type had been consistently cultivated to the one depth, according to standard district practice, He said he and SARDI colleagues started to overcome this soil deterioration by experimenting with a "tillage rotation" where the soil was direct-drilled at differing depths and at optimum moisture content over a four year span. Crop yields were compared with those from conventional cultivation, and from a no-till system.

"The tillage rotation produced higher yields but, importantly, a recently completed economic analysis showed improved gross margins too on this soil type." Mr Malinda said.

Details of the analysis and the research are contained in a 20-page booklet Breakthrough available by contacting Mr Malinda 08 8303 9400,

Region North, South, West